Too many people put off the task of estate planning out of fear of confronting their own mortality or simply because they are too busy with life's day to day activities. But doing so is short-sighted in the long run and can only cause problems for your loved ones when you have passed on.
One way to determine the distribution of your assets is to work with a wealth manager and an estate planning attorney to grasp the total picture of your portfolio. Your attorney can help you choose who will be the executor of your estate, and if you have minor children, set up a custodial and fiduciary guardian for them. This is especially pertinent for single parents.
Everyone needs to have a will. Don't allow the state to determine how your assets are distributed. You may want to bequeath certain family heirlooms to specific relatives, and without a will, there is no guarantee that will occur.
It's also a good idea to lay out in writing your health care directives and preferences in a living will that is written when your mind is clear and unsullied by the ravages of dementia. Once you have drawn this up, you will want to leave a copy with your healthcare provider as well as another with your spouse or other family member who can make sure that in the midst of a crisis, your wishes are carried out.
It's also a good idea to periodically review the beneficiaries on all of your accounts, as needs change over time and you may want to make certain changes. If you are the sole or main breadwinner, consider how your family's lifestyle will be irrevocably altered if you die an untimely death. Life insurance is the only steadfast way to make sure that your spouse and children are spared from a life of poverty and want. Your estate planning attorney and wealth manager can offer suggestions as to the amount of coverage you should carry to replace the loss of your earning power.
Source: Boulder County Business Report, "Take time for estate planning, protecting earning power" Robert J. Pyle, Apr. 04, 2014